Thursday, May 30, 2002

Kristine Newmann and her 5-year-old daughter, Daria, walked yesterday among the empty bookshelves in the part of the Kapolei Library that eventually will be the children's section, which explains the kid-friendly height of the empty bookshelves.

State shows off
bookless Kapolei Library

The school board gets its first
look at the finished facility

By Lisa Asato

School board member Meyer Ueoka walked into the Kapolei Public Library yesterday and wondered aloud, "Is this a white elephant?"

Display cases are empty, shelves devoid of books, and there are no chairs or tables.

Expected to open in July 2003, the Kapolei library is now slated to open at the earliest in December 2003 because the state Legislature provided $267,000 to pay for five staff positions and overhead costs, but it did not provide money for books and other essentials.

Yesterday, the public and board members got their first look at the completed first phase of what is to become the state's second-largest library. When fully shelved, the 35,000-square-foot library will hold 100,000 to 120,000 volumes.

State Librarian Virginia Lowell led the group of about 35 people through the facility, pointing out the future children's reading area on the ground floor, the open spaces for furniture and coffee tables for leisure reading, and the second-floor adult nonfiction and fiction section.

Lowell said it would be a "shame to leave the building vacant and empty" until its formal opening and said the library could be opened two or three times a week perhaps starting in December for programs like story hours, book clubs, and computer training for up to 20 to 25 people at a time.

"All the other things you see us doing at other libraries, we can do here," she said. "There's no reason we can't." She said policy allows the library to charge a fee for the groups to use the training lab.

Books would not be available during that time. Neither would e-mail and Internet service because those require library cards, which the library is not equipped to handle yet.

Lowell said the library will start an advertising campaign to raise money to buy books. But, she said, it is not immediately seeking book donations because it lacks the staff to handle the sorting, cataloging and selecting of donated items.

Some people in yesterday's tour were not happy with that announcement.

"You can collect books, and you can have volunteers sort them out," said Marcia Linville, a retired librarian and member of Friends of Kapolei Library Inc. Linville said the community has been waiting a long time for its library, and it should be opened as soon as possible.

"This is a beautiful building," Linville said. "They deserve to have the library they worked so hard to have."

Herman Young, also a member of the group, suggested the library find a way to buy year-old books for $1 or $3 as he saw the libraries do in New York.

"Old books don't mean it's not a good book," said Young, who along with his wife, Marcia Young, came to the meeting with a plastic bag filled with books to donate.

State Rep. Mark Moses (R, Kunia-Ewa-Waipahu) said books and operating money for the library were not funded because they were competing with things like multitracking at schools as well as negotiated pay raises for unions.

Moses, who brought books to the meeting as well, said he had been turned down by Lowell in the past but would try to convince her to give him a wish list of book titles, and he would work at getting community businesses and groups to buy them for donation to the library. That would still be cheaper than the library buying its own books at a discount, he said.

Caroline Dvojacki, executive director of Friends of the Library of Hawaii, said the library would be a beautiful venue for a fund-raiser, and she would like to hold one there "before the books and tables get in the way."

"(The library is) really lovely," said Kristine Newmann, president of Friends of the Library of Kapolei. "It would be even more lovely with books and people."

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